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Badgers back in Top 25 heading into NCAAs as dreaded fifth seed

Badgers back in Top 25 heading into NCAAs as dreaded fifth seed


After knocking off Purdue and getting to the Big Ten championship game, the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team has again cracked the Top 25, heading into the NCAA tournament.

The Badgers (22-13) come in at No. 23 in the final AP poll. It’s the first time Wisconsin has been ranked since Feb. 12, when they came tumbling down the polls on a four-game losing streak — after getting as high as No. 6 in the country.

The Badgers are a dreaded fifth seed in the tournament and open against 12th-seeded James Madison (31-3) at 8:40 p.m. Friday from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Dukes — not to be confused with Duke, later in this story — opened the season beating then-fourth-ranked Michigan State 79-76 in overtime — the only ranked team they played all year.

Wisconsin was 2-0 against the Spartans, winning 70-57 on Dec. 5 and 81-66 on Jan. 26.

If the Badgers win, they’ll likely play Duke (24-8), which dropped two spots to No. 13 in the polls, after losing the regular-season finale and the opening game of the ACC tournament.

Duke is 2-3 against Top 25 teams, including a 74-65 win over Michigan State, which was ranked 18, on Nov. 14 and a 78-70 win over then-No. 10 Baylor.

Wisconsin is 3-6 against Top 25 teams — two of those losses to No. 2 Purdue, another to then-No. 1 Arizona and another two to No. 13 Illinois. The other Top 25 loss came in Game 2 of the season to then-No. 9 Tennessee 80-70. The Vols are no ranked sixth.

They beat third-ranked Marquette 75-64 on Dec. 2 and No. 24 Virginia 65-41 on Nov. 20. Plus, of course, Wisconsin’s win over Purdue in the Big Ten Tourney, to round out their three Top 25 wins.

TOP PHOTO: FILE – Wisconsin forward Tyler Wahl (5) drives past Minnesota forward Pharrel Payne during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)

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